Posted by wendiwendy
We call the period between October and December “Silly Season” … it’s a term coined on one of the candlemaking email lists I belong to, and it refers to being extra busy at this time of year because that’s when candle orders usually go through the roof. (To be honest, I’m actually not sure where the term originated but that’s where I first heard it.) And right now, it’s Silly Season and that’s the main reason I haven’t been writing very much.
Silly Season this year hasn’t been as Silly as in the past. I mean, we’re talking MAJORLY less Silly! But it still keeps us busy enough, with all the added things we’re doing at this time of the year…like shopping, Christmas decorating, writing Christmas cards, etc. It’s really obvious how bad the economy is though, when we compare sales from past years to this year’s sales. Normally I wouldn’t even have time to write this entry, because we’d be working on candles til midnight every day of the week. Usually at this time of year I can’t even find time to make dinner – we end up ordering out 4 or 5 nights a week. Even carving time out for a shower is a struggle!
When the kids were younger (we’ve had the candle business since 2001) I really felt wracked with guilt over being so busy during the holidays. The first year we were in business, we were really caught off guard and it kind of ruined the holidays for me. I was so stressed that I didn’t enjoy any aspect of decorating, shopping, wrapping gifts, and so on. I just kept thinking of all the orders we had to get done and get shipped so they would arrive to our customers in time. Ever since then, I’ve vowed to never let the business take over like that. Life is too short and it’s just not worth it!
Part of the problem is the fact that we make all the candles as they are ordered. We stock a LOT of fragrances and there’s no way to make all these candles and keep them in stock – we have no place to store them, for one, and who knows when somebody might want this style of candle in that fragrance…the candles could end up sitting around for a year or more. We don’t have the money to invest in wax and fragrance for a candle that hasn’t been sold. So we get the order, and the next day it goes down to our workshop and we get started on the candles.
Except during Silly Season. Then we usually have a backlog and it might be two or three days before we actually get to the order. When you add in up to a week for delivery, plus 3 to 5 days for processing (actually making the candles, packaging them and then packing the order up for shipping), it’s just not possible to get a handmade candle out to a customer a day or two after they order.
Now we make it as obvious as we can – if you want our candles, you have to order in advance. Ever since that first horribly stressful year, we’ve instituted a cut-off date that gives us plenty of time to get candles made and then shipped in time for them to arrive for Christmas. And a few days after that cut-off date (usually around the 10th or 11th of December), we close for the rest of the month.
It sounds crazy to do that, but really, once it gets past the 14th or so, there’s just no way for us to get a candle made and then shipped in time for Christmas. And that’s my cut-off for turning into a stressed-out shrew, because it leaves me a little over a week to do all my last minute shopping, cookie baking and present wrapping.
So now we close early, and we take the time to catch our breath and reintroduce ourselves to the kids. (Well, this year it’s just Paige since Eric isn’t here.) Once I post that final notice on the website that we’re closed until the next year, we celebrate. To assuage my guilt over being so busy during the holidays, we now have a Company Christmas Party, which is really basically just us spending time together all day and evening. We pull out all kinds of board games and card games, we order a fancy meal and get decadent desserts, and we reconnect as a family. I think it’s safe to say we all really look forward to that day! 🙂
So that’s where I’ve been, working (although not quite as feverishly in the past) and decorating. I love the holidays and it brings me a lot of pleasure to look around at the decorations, smell the cookies baking, and see presents under the tree.
I got a little gift from Aetna last week…I do believe my whole insurance ordeal is now behind me. It took quite a while to get the actual letter, but Dave had been in contact with the underwriter by phone, and she had assured him that everything was in order. I just didn’t trust it until I had it in writing, you know? Even then, I felt the letter was vague. It just basically said they were paying my claims as stated in my contract, and they thanked me for my patience. I read the letter, turned to Dave and said, “Um…I want a letter that says, ‘We’re sorry for scaring the shit out of you, and we ARE NOT CANCELLING YOUR INSURANCE.’ This is so vague, what does this mean? Is it over or not?!”
Then he took the letter from my hands, patted me on the back, and said, “This is the best you’re gonna get. It’s over. You can find something new to worry about now.”
Sigh. But anyway, I think it’s okay. They were mainly looking for proof that I hadn’t lost my hearing before I switched to Aetna, since it looked so suspicious that I suddenly went deaf four months after getting new insurance that conveniently covers cochlear implants. And they only raised my monthly premium by $25 (starting next month), which was another nice surprise….I kind of expected my premium to double, you know?!
It’s back to candles, folks. One more week of madness here!! 🙂